I was inspired by a sermon called In Flickering Light by Bishop T. D. Jakes and offered an initial response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Via Facebook Live, I shared some thoughts on God’s Perfect Love.
Here are some notes to follow along. I considered this teaching an inreach and discipling reminder to the disciples and sons of God — who we are and how things get in our way of trusting that God’s perfect love is the bottom line in our lives.
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.1 John 4:16 NLT
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
Bottleneck #1: Our belief in God’s love
Do we believe God loves us? Yes, I think we do… in heady concept, at least. We nod our heads and agree that God loves us. Do we trust God’s love? In our life’s details, in our emotions, in our hearts, can we “fall back” in the trust exercise into God’s love? For a lot of us, the answer is no. Maybe there was a bad example — someone who was supposed to care for us — and now we have trust issues. Love means different things to us, but God is love. (that was loaded! don’t miss that!) 1 John 4:16a says that we know, we believe that God loves us and we place our trust in His love. Somewhere along the way, we choose to trust God’s love is safe, different, and unlike the humans who mismanaged their attempts at love.
Bottleneck #2: Abiding in God’s love
Now, this one is a doozy. Most of us “drive-by” God’s love with sincere and casual thanks, having not internalized His love. Many base God’s love as a response to good deeds, or good behavior, or tolerance and treating people right. No. God’s love is the initiator, and His love needs to be learned, investigated, and explored. Beyond the emotional acknowledgments in times of great stress, suffering, and amazing blessing and opportunity, we should learn to recognize God’s love as is. Learn to live in His love. Spend time there. Get acquainted with His love to the point that we know the difference from botched human attempts. 1 John 4:16b says that those of us who choose to live our lives in God’s love, live in God, and God lives in us. WOW.
Our society equates love with all-out acceptance, tolerance, and a do-whatever-makes-you-happy attitude. Throw that on God’s love, and God’s love gets cheapened. His love is a wonder. His love inspires awe and amazement. His love takes time to know fully. How do we know that? Because we have to vest our lives in His love. Like going into a room and closing the door, we have to immerse our lives in His love..and then live from that room. God is LOVE. He is the standard of love. He is NOT our opinion or our exposure to love. Selah.
Bottleneck #3: Fear
Time learning the wonder of God’s love has residual benefits. We learn what real love is, and how God’s love is not like human love. His love is perfect, complete, and whole. Think of how hard we dive in and commit to broken people who try at love and damage us. Think of how our God given resilience allows us to adapt to people who love us poorly. It’s reasonable then, how we get to cheap love when it comes to God.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.1 John 4:18 ESV
The Greek-English New Testament renders 1 John 4:18 in a way that is so great! “Fear is not in the love, but the complete love throws the fear outside, because the fear has punishment, but the one fearing has not been completed in love.” WOW. Fear makes us incomplete in love. God’s love makes us whole. There is no fear in the love that is God. God’s perfect love, when we abide in it and Him, throws our fears outside! Hallelujah!
Bottleneck #4: Relationships
The context for this teaching is 1 John 4:7-21. Two things are important to consider. First, in verse 7, we are exhorted to love each other. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (KJV). Second, in verse 21, we are commanded to love one another. “And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (NIV). In between verses 7 and 21, we see the case for God’s love being the bottom line and how we live like God in the earth through His love.
We are flawed. God’s love is not. We are at times broken, hurt, and wounded. God’s love is none of these. We are becoming whole people, complete in the finished work of Jesus. God’s love is complete. Take heart, disciples. Be strong and very courageous, sons. God’s love is powerful enough to throw our fears outside, and strengthen us in faith. Be encouraged, and share encouragement with others. Be brave and fall back in God’s love. Let’s trust it, and see all that we call ourselves working to achieve, begin to unfold. Yes? Yes. Amen.
Dr. Shaunta Scroggins is the lead contributor for The Bereans’ Commentary.
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